The Design is the Thing

•January 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Continue reading ‘The Design is the Thing’

Shout from the Rooftops

•January 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

There is something very disconcerting about imagining how today’s world will appear in 100 years time.

The tragedies, the earthquakes, the floods, the disease, the poverty may all seem even worse to our descendants because they will not see physical death as the end of their existence.

So, when children of this time first encounter the notion that in the past – in history – people ‘just died and that was the end of them’ their reactions would be interesting. One could imagine it as being like how we absorb the knowledge of no anaesthesia for operations prior to 1850 – horrible, tragic, something we are in awe of, and something we really do not want to return to!

They may also look at the first decades of the 21st Century and tut-tut at the millions who might not have died irretrievably if only the pathways to personhood storage and survival had been pursued more vigorously.

The lack of funds for cutting edge developments that are in the most likely categories to reach these points is certainly attributable to a lack of public interest in the overall task which – as it is clearly not to do with the eventual outcome – is most likely stemming from a major reluctance to see these concepts/technologies/development as ‘serious’ things or anything other than fanciful.

For those of us who have spent time contemplating these areas we may well get frustrated at the inertia – however, it seems to me possible if one gets an individual’s undivided attention to gain their interest and enthusiasm relatively quickly. It is the getting beyond that initial squeamishness and learned aversion that seems the greatest challenge. To do this in a mass way may well be aided by bringing a ‘celebrity’ a public figure who holds credibility and can be easily identified with by large numbers of the population to a point where they themselves bring the arguements to the public

ABOUT US

•December 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A large and growing group of the world’s leading scientists and thinkers at this time are confident that they and you have a very strong chance of getting the better of death. They also, see the chances increasing rapidly as time passes. They do not all agree with each other on which particular course of action is most likely to succeed. Does this mean that you have to pay your money and take your chance?

Of course not. There can be a confrontational dimension between different promoters of the different routes; however, this is explained by competition for funding in areas that attract similar investment. However, from the perspective of an individual surely this is the area, above all others, where you hedge your bets!

This is why this website and this organisation was formed. We are your ‘one-stop-shop’ for survival beyond your current biological terminal  inevitability. Whether it is cellular repair, mind uploading, mindfiles, brain preservation, cryonics, brain-machine interface or an increasingly diverse range of emerging options; our plan is to bring you all the information, and the ability to choose the Self Preservation methods you wish. It may take some time and repeated exposure to the concepts associated with all of this, and it is something that millennia of failed attempts and seeming impossibility have hard-wired all of us towards resisting, for you to become comfortable with the ramifications, but with more information the possibilities become clearer. The site will be developed to offer a suite of membership options soon enough but for now posts are available for your perusal and forums for discussions.

Empathy

•November 30, 2010 • 1 Comment

One genome

In many walks of life we balance the individual desire and need with the common purpose. It is perhaps worth wondering why is there an expression of interest in the common welfare at all. Why is it that for the overwhelming majority of people, empathy is engrained in our make-ups. If we even hear of a tragic story regarding a child we have never met, we may feel sadness, we may even shed a tear. Where is the evolutionary logic to it.

Interestingly studies of the human genome would indicate that we have is not a mere code of our own individual identity but rather an individual stockpile of all of life represnted in out DNA. And so, we know that whether it is another human, another animal, or indeed anything we deem to be living; we really are all closely related

Human Cooperation

Looking at our individual genetic histories, of course, there are a million near tragedies to the amoebas, the primates and the humans that survived or your grandparent that nearly contracted a fatal illnes just beofre your parent was conceived and on and on to near infinity that can be applied to the phrase ‘you are lucky to be alive’; to allow for you and I. That the chemical interactions at our very beginnings morphed to autonomous living cellular entities is clear, if the how exactly is not yet. But what of the notion of individualistic evolution?  It is clear that cooperation greatly increased our capacity to evolve and is also deeply engrained.

Looking at a hypothetical moment in our history where we may have battled with another primate or any other creature; and we look to our ingenuity as the core of our successful survival, but why be ingenious, why care as an individual if one of my tribe is killed by a creature or indeed an environmental event. It is the empathy felt by this tribe, the anger and fear at the sight of a young baby dead that will coerce us to develop our defences against those creatures, or that storm, or that disease; that we would dedicate ourselves to the voyage of medicinal care and discovery.

Separation

•November 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

We do not know what the world of next year will be and yet this lack of knowledged is unlikely to be a reason for wishing to die this year

In many discussions it seems the merits of pursuing means of defeating death are set upon by arguements that concentrate on dystopic or otherwise projections of future times and substrates and so on. I believe this is illogical and I believe the separation between wanting to survive beyond the normal biological limitations and pondering what will happen in this future or that future is necessary

Odd Creatures and Beliefs

•November 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Odd People.

 

Essentially, we live in an odd place, but it is what it is and one certainty about us is that we can adapt. If we awoke to a blue sun and orange sky –we would find it strange, and if aliens arrived and took over all forms of power – again different, but we would still go to the toilet, indeed we would still awake and get on with it, as shocking as these things are.
  
However, juxtaposing this is a great reluctance to change and a fear of the unknown. It is easy to see from an evolutionary perspective why we would have acquired this reticence to embrace the unfamiliar. Early man would not look at a snake, pick it up, and wonder if it was something that could be cuddled. We instinctively fear anything we are not familiar with. We also, like to have consensus among our peers that something is ok, normal, non-poisonous etc. (I just would like to see them pick it up and cuddle it first!) and so are further stalled while we await a critical mass of people to accept something new.

What of Religion

It might be useful to imagine the world and the history of man in the world while considering that there is no God. If one contemplates a reality where religion, despite being a set of beliefs held the vast majority of people over the vast majority of time is in fact a result of peoples lack of understanding, much in the line of a ‘flat world’. Perhaps one can see religion as an attempt to explain that which at different times was inexplicable (early Gods of a wide variety of incomprehensible phenomenon such as thunder, sea and sun; and the residual God of Man), or as a psychological necessity – a coping mechanism for the eventuality of death; or, indeed, as a tool used by many to add weight or significance to their voices.

 

In any event, to revisit the history of religion itself very thoroughly through the prism of these concepts may be very useful in looking at the innumerable philosophical and humanistic implications for such a project such as this and the idea generally that humanity expressed its hopes in the attributes it placed on god’s and afterlifes. And so with omniscience, omnipotence, eternal bliss, equality; but also power, abuse of privilege, deceit and conceit we see the projections of humanities potential destinies and desires as their ability to control their own destiny increases

Memories

•November 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 

Nothing without Memories

There is a definite existential argument as to whether me less my memories is really me, or indeed, then worthy of the effort at the base of this whole project. Now one might counter that if given the option between death and having a complete retrograde amnesia from an accident etc. and so coming to as me but minus any prior memories and with the capacity to make new ones, then the latter might be preferable.

 

It is also clear that memory is going to be a very hard nut to decipher, moving from hippocampus to cortex and seemingly connected through an immense number of synapses with multi-faceted, multi-sensory potential stimuli of recall. However, again we can say that whatever it is, it is ‘in there’ in us.

Nanotech synaptic level internal and ongoing imaging of ‘Our Connectome’ would be one clear way of  storing the informational patterns that make up our memories ;declarative and non-declarative. However, this technology may be some way off.

Would it not be nice of our long-term memories were stored somewhere for ease of imaging this would mean that just a DNA sample would be required for recreation with memories intact; in fact, this would also offer the possibility of retrieval from the already departed. We would in short have done ourselves a major evolutionary favour. Well take a look at the following article from the ‘New Scientist’

DNA Methylation

Memories may be stored on your DNA

02 December 2008 by Devin Powell, Washington DC

REMEMBER your first kiss? Experiments in mice suggest that patterns of chemical “caps” on our DNA may be responsible for preserving such memories.

To remember a particular event, a specific sequence of neurons must fire at just the right time. For this to happen, neurons must be connected in a certain way by chemical junctions called synapses. But how they last over decades, given that proteins in the brain, including those that form synapses, are destroyed and replaced constantly, is a mystery.

Now Courtney Miller and David Sweatt of the University of Alabama in Birmingham say that long-term memories may be preserved by a process called DNA methylation – the addition of chemical caps called methyl groups onto our DNA.

Many genes are already coated with methyl groups. When a cell divides, this “cellular memory” is passed on and tells the new cell what type it is – a kidney cell, for example. Miller and Sweatt argue that in neurons, methyl groups also help to control the exact pattern of protein expression needed to maintain the synapses that make up memories.

They started by looking at short-term memories. When caged mice are given a small electric shock, they normally freeze in fear when returned to the cage. However, then injecting them with a drug to inhibit methylation seemed to erase any memory of the shock. The researchers also showed that in untreated mice, gene methylation changed rapidly in the hippocampus region of the brain for an hour following the shock. But a day later, it had returned to normal, suggesting that methylation was involved in creating short-term memories in the hippocampus (Neuron, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.02.022).

To see whether methylation plays a part in the formation of long-term memories, Miller and Sweatt repeated the experiment, this time looking at the uppermost layers of the brain, called the cortex.

They found that a day after the shock, methyl groups were being removed from a gene called calcineurin and added to another gene. Because the exact pattern of methylation eventually stabilised and then stayed constant for seven days, when the experiment ended, the researchers say the methyl changes may be anchoring the memory of the shock into long-term memory, not just controlling a process involved in memory formation.

“We think we’re seeing short-term memories forming in the hippocampus and slowly turning into long-term memories in the cortex,” says Miller, who presented the results last week at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC.

“The cool idea here is that the brain could be borrowing a form of cellular memory from developmental biology to use for what we think of as memory,” says Marcelo Wood, who researches long-term memory at the University of California, Irvine.

Singularities

There are many considerations from Ray Kurzweil and others regarding the exponential growth of technology, and the possibility of reaching a singularity, or a point of near infinity. Mr Kurzweil acknowledges the mathematical constraints of the notion of as singularity and the notion of machines becoming capable of processes we as yet can not fathom is, obviously, none the weaker for this admittance.

One could argue if we have found one yet whether in the big bang theory or the edge of a black hole it still conforms to Einstein’s speed limit – the speed of light. This may again provide the end-point of acceleration as the complexity of the human and biological based intelligence is transformed into a matter more malleable to attaining that speed. And on attaining that speed or being involved as a form of matter or energy we could exist as a different form in the merry dance of matter and energy, of velocity and time.

Because we know that the processes that occur in our minds, while there is a major amount of parallelism that occurs and will need replication; are many times slower than that which we can cause in an electronic realm. And so as our processes speed up, my time relative to the current physical realm slows down, and combining this with the attempts to take the physical or electronic, or hybrid environment beyond a point in time when matter no longer exists via a two brane collision or any other such occurrence; then with these two elongating processes surely we will get pretty close to singularity. In other words a day in the second life may take a tiny part of a second in this realm; and while we look at a universal lifespan of a trillion years, or perhaps without end – then the notion of having this second existence open to us for a ‘really’ long time rings true

In this is more than enough room for the assistance of a machine that is smarter in every way than ourselves. And, of course in as much as we can see our future as one in a virtual realm – this ‘machine’ and these processes may well become a part of our essence. We must decide then to maintain that which we wish to maintain, our freewill that will allow me to decide if I wish to be enhanced (either here in the physical realm or in the electronic substrate – I may well wish to stay as I am by replicating all here, there. I may find myself playing a round of golf shortly after I die, and still not be able to do so very well because in that world without limits I will need to apply these limits myself; or certainly have the autonomy to do so. What I will have is plenty of time to play plenty of holes.

 
 

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